Delta used to open a private jet subsidiary, and they promised surprise and delight upgrades for frequent flyers willing to pay a few hundred bucks. The idea was that Delta needed to reposition these planes for charters anyway, so why not pick up an extra $300 along the way for the empty legs?
There was huge media hype around SkyMiles elites being able to fly private. It turned out this didn’t really happen, at least Delta wouldn’t say it ever happened more than 5 times and definitely didn’t happen two dozen times in total.
Then at the end of 2019 Delta sold its private jet operation to Wheels Up in exchange for an overship stake in the company. And now, with this partnership, Wheels Up is going to start providing Delta SkyMiles with private jet redemption options.
Wheels Up is merging with a SPAC in order to go public and revealed some details about its plans for loyalty in an SEC filing, including launching its own program to “provide members with additional exclusive benefits and reinforce Wheels Up as a leading lifestyle and experiential brand” by the end of 2021.
Already Wheels Up offers Delta miles for members joining or renewing with their jet card program, as well as SkyMiles elite status.
They plan to introduce benefits and offers to Delta 360, Diamond, and Platinum members and to offer SkyMiles redemptions for private jet travel. This would represent a return of private jet travel to the SkyMiles program, which offered redemptions for Delta Private Jets between 2016 an 2018.
This is unlikely to represent significant value for SkyMiles members (or American Express Membership Rewards points transfers) as Delta miles hover around a penny apiece in value, although it’s possible from time to time that better promotional values could arise.